This is a six page summary review of a political-cultural-economic-social transformation that is both needed and possible, by the one person seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency who appears authentic, inclusive, and truthful. Links to free online supporting documentation for the author’s radically humanistic and deeply spiritual proposals are included in the formal review. An additional five pages of links and one paragraph extracts are appended to give the reader easy access to a range of mass media depictions of the author that range from angelic to whacko.
7 Star Transformative — As Important as Governing the Commons — LOCALIZE
For those who do not know this, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action earned Elinor Ostrom a Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. This book, by the author of Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is of that caliber. A later book,, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life is easier to read — if you have time for only one go with the latter.
The core message of this book is that you cannot predict or control high impact low probability events, but you can downsize, localize, you can decentralize, and in so doing make much of the ecology “antifragile.”
6 Stars Presidential Transitions Matter and President Trump Blew It — With Follow-on Consequences
Although I am a huge fan of President Trump — I wrote the first article on how he could win (“Counter-Coup: How Trump Can Win,” CounterPunch, 14 August 2018) and went on to write the 30 piece Trump Revolution Series, I also believe in learning from the mistakes of others — this book has a great deal to offer the next President.
Early on in the book we learn that then candidate Trump did not want a presidential transition team and refused to assign campaign funds for it. When he was persuaded by Chris Christie that he needed one and Christie offered to raise funds separately, Trump assented, only to blow a fuse when he learned Christie had raised $9 million.
QUOTE (21): “Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling, You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?”
The book offers one capstone understanding and five insights that every presidential candidate should take deeply to heart:
Some books are so far out of my personal ability to digest in detail that I very rapidly convert to my scanning mode with one big question that I ask on every page: does this book and its author pass the smell test with me, and would I, if President, want to trust this author to help implement his ideas without necessarily understanding them in detail?
Not only is the answer for this book and this author a resounding YES, but on pages 31-32 I have a note, “Holy Shit! Could DT be doing all this?” Those two pages outline ten great deals that Donald Trump could be pursuing: peace, jobs, sound-money, Glass-Steagall, federalist, regulatory, liberty, health-care, fiscal, and governance.
This book makes the jump from 5 stars (generally I don’t bother to review a book if it is not a four or five star read) to 6 stars — my top ten percent — because of the combination of Questions Asked, glorious color graphics, and the total holistic nature of the book — this is easily a PhD thesis in holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. Indeed, this book could be used as a first-year reference across any humanities and science domain, they would be the better for it.
6-Star Guide to Saving Every City in Every Country — a World-Changing Book
This is an extraordinary book, easily five stars but I am elevating it to 6 stars (my top ten percent across over 2000 reviews, all but a handful non-fiction) because the author is not just a genius, but he explains his deep multi-level knowledge brilliantly. I have never seen a collection of complicated nuanced topics presented in such a compelling, easy to understand, well-illustrated manner. The case studies abound. The publisher is to be complemented for the purity of the presentation — a stunning book with perfectly laid out pages, glossy color on every page, and a superb index, which is where most publishers fail their authors.
5.0 out of 5 stars6 Star Synthesis, Starting Point for Anyone Who Wishes to Think Holistically, July 4, 2015
The author taught me most of what I retain in the way of political science fundamentals during our time together at Muhlenberg College, where he was former Chair of the Department of Political Science and an Associate Dean. We had not kept in touch since I left Muhlenberg in 1974, but in 2014 I reached out to him and bought this book immediately upon learning of its existence.
Published in 2003 by the State University of New York Press, this book was evidently not marketed at all, and little noted. That is a sad commentary on our times, because I find that the author has distilled multiple literatures into one coherent presentation, augmented by an original model that tells a vital story beyond Ecological Economics into Ecological Political Economy (in essence, politics), into Ecological Ethics and Ecological Pedagogy, two topics rarely covered by others.
5.0 out of 5 starsWorld-Changing Book Documenting Intersection of Humans, Technology, and Policy-Ethics, February 2, 2015
This is a hugely important work, one that responds to the critical needs outlined by Micah Sifry in The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet) and others such as myself writing these past 25 years on the need to reform the pathologically dysfunctional US secret intelligence community that is in constant betrayal of the public trust.
Digital Humanitarians are BURYING the secret world. For all the bru-ha-ha over NSA’s mass surveillance and the $100 billion a year we spend doing largely technical spying (yet only processing 1% of what we waste money on in collection), there are two huge facts that this book, FOR THE FIRST TIME, documents:
5.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant Story of Biological Evolution — Our Yoda Speaks, December 2, 2014
I met the author at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland where we were both attending the New Story Summit. So let’s start by me saying that this is what Yoda looks like in grandmother form. Elisabet Sahtouris is a HUGE brain packed into an earth form that is most kindly and hugely inspiring. Being around her is heart-warming, life-affirming, and intellectually stimulating — a full-brain massage in a cosmic-calm embrace.
Although I have read other work by her in the past — and I especially love her work as available free via YouTube — this book is a convergence of simple explanation about a relatively simple cosmos that we disrespect at our peril. This is a great overview of biological evolution and essential education for every adult who wishes to be responsible toward their children and Earth.
5.0 out of 5 starsFrom coffee table to scientific salon, a worthy offering, November 4, 2014
This is a spectacular offering on multiple fronts. On the low-end, it has got to be the coolest coffee table book around, something that could be usefully offered in every waiting room across London — and hopefully inspire copycats for other cities including Paris and New York and Dubai.
At the high end, the book offers the most current available understanding of just what can be gleaned from “big data” that is available from open databases — one can only imagine the additional value to be had from closed data bases (money movement, for example). And of course we have to persist in our demands that all data and the software and hardware needed to process the data be open source so that it is affordable, interoperable, and scalable.
5.0 out of 5 starsNobel-Level Work Essential to Understanding Our Bright Future, October 29, 2014
Sadly, the author is deceased. I have always considered him a contender for the Nobel Prize.
I am upset with Amazon for not carrying over reviews from past editions — new readers are advised to look up older editions of any books if they wish to take advantage of some of the extraordinary material provided by past reviewers. I will not replicate those other reviews — they are worth finding.
Here’s the math that I was surprised to not see in the book: the top billion people that business focuses on are worth less than a trillion in potential sales. The bottom four billion, with less than $1000 a year in disposable income, are worth four trillion in potential sales.
5.0 out of 5 starsCommon Sense Community-Based Economics, October 25, 2014
Laurence Brahm is one of those unsung heroes who was changing the world for the better, and influencing various governments in most positive ways, long before ecological economics and social enterprise became fashionable turns of phrase. I regard him as the anti-thesis to the predatory capitalism mantras and methods of our time. His proven focus on community development and evolutionary blends of state planning and market incentives is precisely what we need now that everyone understands that Western governments have been corrupted and Western economies destroyed by financial interests devoted to extracting value instead of creating value. This is a practical book, a spiritual book, and one that should be required reading among those intent on creating collaborative economies and social enterprises.
His recommended gradualist evolutionary approach is ethical and focused on stable transformation, not rapid looting by foreign bankers.
Quote (41): The fundamental failure of ivory tower cookie-cutter models, for all of their theoretical perfection, is that they ignore local conditions, culture, mindset, and historical burdens.”
5.0 out of 5 starsCo-Creator with Buckminster Fuller of the Analog World Game, The Gold Standard for Serious Games 4.0, September 4, 2014
Medard Gabel, co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, and architect of the digital EarthGame(TM), is “root” for anyone who wishes to do holistic design, true cost economics, serious games, and open source information-sharing and sense-making. He is too little known, very modest, and does not get the deep attention that he merits.
I have participated in his design seminars, and am always thrilled at how well they work. Everyone starts out working on “their” problem, generally an issue in isolation, and around the middle of the week-long seminar, all the different teams experience the “aha” moment when they realize that they cannot succeed in isolation, that all the challenges need to be addresses by everyone working together.
For me Medard Gabel is the “gold standard” and none of the serious games, however well-intentioned they might be, can be helpful beyond their narrow niche for lack of the holistic understanding and the information-sharing and sense-making architecture that Medard provides for — mostly human, not technical at all. As Russell Ackoff likes to say, what is good for one part of the system might be very bad for all the other parts — Comprehensive architecture and prime design — all threats, all policies, all demographics — are essential to our moving past the toxic industrial era of reductionsim and separation that we have fostered these past two hundred years.
I rate this book, because it is a collection of the best of the best from past books, some of which I reviewed at the time, at six stars instead of five.
4.0 out of 5 starsGlass Half Full — Cannot Be Ignored But Also Off the Rails, September 4, 2014
Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a “dream” coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me — finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years — and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity — and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow’s work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:
The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is “assumes” integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). This is the same mistake made by Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update and the Club of Rome. The *losing* alternative to the Limits to Growth assumption that top-down government would deal responsibly with climate change and other high level threats focused instead on education from the bottom up — the central point of Will Durant’s 1919 doctoral thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition.
5.0 out of 5 stars6 Star Collective Common Sense Relevant to CYBER-Commons Not Just Earth Commons, May 27, 2014
I read this book shortly after I had read Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) and my first impression is that the book should be re-issued in 2015, a quarter-century after it was first published, with additional material on how everything here is applicable to governing the cyber-commons. I have to recommend the two books together — STOP THIEF lays down with deep historical and multi-cultural foundation that gives GOVERNING THE COMMONS even more credibility — and for those that do not realize, this book earned the author a Nobel Prize in Economics.
On that note, I would point out that this book crushes the traditional explanations for why the state or the firm are superior decision-making alternatives to bottom-up citizen common sense. This book is also consistent with the LOSING proposal to the Club of Rome that recommended we focus on educating the global public (a universal bottom-up approach). As well now know, the Club of Rome chose the wrong solution, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, because is assumed that top-down mandated measures were the only measures that could be effective.